Dylan Kelley | Make More Money From Existing Traffic

Adam LeanPodcast

Too many ecommerce businesses depend on one marketing channel for a majority of their traffic… and the resulting sales and revenue. That, says Dylan Kelley, founder of Wavebreak.co, is a recipe for disaster.

Dylan specializes in helping entrepreneurs get more sales from the traffic they already have – and not spend more money on expensive ads to get new leads.

He uses a marketing channel that’s been around for decades… but has been neglected by many who do business online and who just don’t understand its power.

We explore that channel and what you can do right now to boost sales, as well as…

  • What 99% of ecommerce stores are doing wrong
  • The email marketing strategy your ecommerce site needs
  • Why people buy… and then buy again (and how to make sure they do)
  • The two parts of a money-making email marketing strategy
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:


Adam Lean: Welcome to P is for Profit, a podcast that breaks down business concepts into simple and clear language. This season is dedicated to interviewing e-commerce experts that can help you improve your ecommerce business. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the founder of a done-for-you email marketing service. So why does email marketing matter?

If you’re selling online email is still one of the best ways to communicate with your customers and potential customers. If you’re giving them value through your emails, they will stay engaged with your business and ideally give you more and more business. However, just like with any email marketing program or any marketing programs, you’ve got to track the ROI or the return on investment to ensure that it is paying for itself. All marketing programs like email marketing, need to essentially do two things to prove successful: number one, it needs to just pay for itself, it needs to cover all the costs you have in the marketing program. But even more importantly, it needs to do number two, it needs to give you additional profit. Otherwise, why spend the money? 

So make sure that you are closely monitoring every marketing program that you have, you need to monitor the return on investment on every single marketing program. So today, let’s jump into the interview with Dylan and see how they go about improving the ROI with their clients with email marketing.

My guest today is Dylan Kelly, the founder of wave break dot CEO, Dylan and his team helps eCommerce stores maximize their email revenue, and stop leaving money on the table. He also is the host of the popular way break eCommerce podcast. Dylan. Well, welcome to the show.

Dylan Kelley: Thanks for having me, Adam. Super excited to be here.

Adam: Yeah, I’m excited because email is obviously a huge driver for eCommerce stores. And I love that you, you say that you help stop leaving money on the table. So I want to dive in. But before we get there, tell me you know how you got to where you are?

From CRO to eMail Marketing

Dylan: Yeah, yeah. And I’m definitely on the same page as you– I love email marketing, obviously. But it actually it wasn’t always that way. I spent basically my whole career in e-commerce. But back in the day at this point, I think was about three years ago, which is crazy, like Time flies, I was actually doing conversion rate optimization for online stores, I saw a lot of value in making more money from your existing traffic and audience without having to spend more money on ads. So it’s already kind of leaning in that direction. And for one client of mine, really awesome clients who are actually doing really well right now they’re on Shark Tank a while back, raise the money. And they’re actually, you know, one of the stories on Shark Tank that doesn’t just disappear after a while, really happy for them. But basically, what I was doing was building and optimizing landing pages that they were sending their Facebook ads traffic to. And I mean, things were going well. But as I was doing this, they stopped being able to afford to send traffic to their landing pages. So basically what happened was bigger brands with these like really huge ad spends, like think like brands on the scale of like, if you think like the top 100 kinds of eCommerce brands, not like an Amazon but like if you think of like a Nike or something like that, they came into the states and just basically ramped up the cost of ads. And the Facebook ads channel for this client just like dried up pretty much overnight. And at that point, it was driving the vast majority of their sales. And it looked like from the like a traffic standpoint, it looks like they just started their business, despite doing like millions of dollars in revenue up to this point. It was from there were certain kind of gear, similar stories from people, not just about Facebook ads, but like, you know, a few years before Facebook ads have kind of become this, you know, standard channel, like it was like, you know, doing a lot of organic stuff. And like the different updates that have caused stores to really, you know, a lot of stores to just completely die out because they’re so dependent on one marketing channel. And I knew that there had to be a better way to add more stability to your business, and consistently get sales from the numbers you’re already doing, like most people listening this podcast already have a decent amount of traffic, and they’re looking to get more profit out of their store.

And that’s when I was able to discover the power of email marketing, and how it’s one of the most profitable, powerful ways to grow your eCommerce business. And that’s where I am today, where I’m at the point where I’ve got this email marketing system dialled in. And we’ve been doing this for the last three years now. And that’s I guess, what we’re going to talk about today. Yeah, sounds very impressive. What, what I took out of that story with your client was on Shark Tank was the fact that they recognize that their return on investment from Facebook ads was not where it needed to be.

I mean, I imagine that some clients or some ecommerce business owners will just, you know, increase their ad spend just to get that sale. But they recognize the fact that it’s not profitable. Yeah, yeah, hundred per cent. And yeah, they really had to it was just that it was a stressful time. For them. It was a stressful time for me because obviously, I’m building my business off the back of these businesses sending Facebook every night. You know, and it’s just something really scary to think about, like, what would happen if your ad cost doubled? Like, or something like that, just something to think about, like worst-case scenario, like there’s, I mean, you think about all the issues that Facebook has had lately, and how ad costs are rising every single year, but it’s only a matter of time before the need to really start thinking about other options.

And that’s what I love about this podcast is like, how can you make your business more profitable? Because that is what’s going to help you keep growing as ad costs, rather than different platforms and new things come into play to get more stability in your business?

Adam: Yeah, totally. I mean, I can’t remember the exact statistic. But I think that the average eCommerce store is doing what 2% conversion rate, something like that. I mean, that may at 98% of people are coming to the site and leaving, but you’re essentially there to help recoup those people that left. So tell me… to walk me through your process. Why is email marketing, especially the way you do it so important?

Why Email Marketing Matters

Dylan: Yeah, so kind of exactly what you said like, the reality is 99% of eCommerce stores are doing it wrong. They don’t have a real strategy to it. And they’re just not consistent with it. And as a result, what ends up happening is like not only do they not have stability in their business, but they’re also leaving lots of money on the table. Like if you think about that conversion rate of 2%, which is pretty standard, you know, more or less, sometimes it’s different. You think about that, like if you’re spending 10k on ads and only 2% of people are converting, I mean, that’s, that’s a lot of money that you’re spending and a lot of traffic you’re sending to your website.

And so if you don’t have email dialled in, and you have, you don’t have a strategy to convert more traffic, using the email to get more repeat orders, then you’re not going to be able to scale as easily. You know, and depending on the size of your store, you can be leaving up to you know, a million or more on the table, depending on the size of your business.

Adam: Wow. So what you keep saying, you know, you have to have a great email strategy totally agree. What does that look like? What does somebody listening… What does that mean? Put that into context? What’s a good strategy?

Dylan: Yes. Yeah, that’s a great question. So, I mean, like I said, like, 99% of stores get this wrong. And it’s like, wait, only 1% get this right. And it’s true, like, even the stores that are sending emails, they just don’t have a real strategy to it. Because if you think about the way people buy, there’s a reason why people buy. And there’s a reason why people don’t. And too many people think of emails, this just kind of money-making machine where you go in, sit down, maybe blast out a discount, and then he makes some money that day. But what that ends up doing is that ends up costing you money in the long run, because number one, if you’re not consistent about it, well, just like you’re not going to get the engagement and the results you could. And then number two, you’re not really actually helping people make a buying decision. So one thing that we do differently at Wave Break is we use something called the Wave Break method to think through, okay, why our customers actually not buying because a lot of people in the email list are people who have never bought before, maybe they’ve opted in somewhere, or whatever… thinking about logical How can we get those people to convert?

For example, if you’re selling a clothing item, maybe they’re concerned about the sizing, but you might already have a guarantee, but you’re not marketing it right. And emails are a great way to do that. Same goes for getting repeat purchases. And this is a real high-level overview. But like, for example, a lot of stores, it’s just like, this random approach, like maybe they come back if we send this sale promo, or whatever. But they don’t actually think about what is somebody most likely to buy next, and when, and dive into a deeper and then you pull the discount at the end when somebody hasn’t really gone through the funnel already.

Adam: That makes sense.

Dylan: That’s kind of the high-level overview.

Adam: No, no, that I mean, that makes sense. What have you found that works to get people on your email list? 

How Do You Even Get People’s Emails?

Dylan: Yeah. So I mean, there’s a few different strategies. Something that’s really effective, though, that’s like, tried and true is like you said, like 90% of your traffic visits your store it doesn’t buy. So one way we capture more emails is what using like exit intent technology. So like, if somebody goes to leave the site, we throw up a pop-up and get them to come back.

And you can see really good conversion rates on that from the front end, getting the email address, and then also on the back end, those types of offers, typically get a higher conversion rate than your actual website. So if you’re doing like, a 2% conversion rate on your store, you might be able to get a 10% conversion rate through that offer, which is really interesting.

So you’re capturing more of that last traffic is leaving your site anyway. And then you’re converting more of it to at a higher level.

Adam: Yeah, I mean, this is super important information. I mean, you know, going back to what we said at the beginning, if you’re paying in one way or the other, you’re paying for all the visitors that are coming to your site, you need to keep you know, keep as many of those and get them to buy as much as possible email sounds like a great way. So what is somebody that doesn’t have a great email strategy in place? What is the first thing that someone could do to get started?

Getting Started With an Email Strategy

Dylan: Yeah, so there are two pieces to that. Number one, and then when you break email down, it really comes down to like, on the back end of the email, there are two pieces. There’s your automation, which is your automated emails, for example, you know, an abandoned cart email that triggers automatically based on customer behaviour. And then you have your one time sends, which are like, you know, I call it email campaigns. And those are like your one-off newsletters, sales promotions, maybe you’re promoting blog posts, and things like that. And so you break it down into automation and campaigns, the first thing you want to do is really build out a suite of email automation, that walks customers through every part of your customer journey.

So for example, we talked about that pop-up, if we’re going to be sending traffic and getting subscribers in this pop-up, we need a way to convert them into purchases. So you want to get a solid email sequence, following up to that, to get people to convert. So for example, you know, as we said before, with the clothing, addressing people’s objections, you know, that’s showing a lot of reviews, that proving that your product works. That’s, you know, emphasizing your guarantee, answering frequently asked questions, you do that there.

And then from there, you also have to make sure not only is the front end good to go, but you also have to make sure the back end is good to what happens after somebody makes a purchase? This is a big mistake I see… like these companies will have like an email here, there. And maybe they’ll send one email after somebody buys to get them to buy again. But the reality is, you can’t predict the product that somebody is probably going to want to buy right off the bat. So sometimes it takes a few different emails to do that. 

So you definitely want a good post-purchase strategy, because that’s what’s going to enable you to scale as one of our client of ours did like tripled their total revenue because we’re able to use email to create a back-end strategy that got more repeat orders. And that’s what you’re missing out when you’re just sending like the one email after purchase or worse, sending nothing. And then on top of that, so that’s kind of like so you get that you have like sort of a nurture welcome series, to get subscribers into purchasers, you got your post-purchase emails to get people to go from purchase to second purchase, third purchase, and so on. And then the last thing is kind of like customer behaviour on your site. So what happens when people abandoned carts, which is a huge number. So many people abandon carts, just like the people who come to your website and don’t buy, it’s like a similar number, add to their cart, and then don’t buy it. So one of the most important sequences you can build this automated is an abandoned cart sequence.

And just like we were talking about, you want to make it combat objections, and you want to answer FAQ because there’s a reason these people are adding to their cart, and not buying. And you can answer those without giving a discount, and you can make a ton of money and recover a ton of sales. So that’s kind of the whole, that’s the one side, automation side. And then the other side is a campaign strategy. And we can dive more into details later. But the most important part was your email campaigns is that you’re not sending a discount every single day. But you are being consistent and emailing your list consistently over time. Because the worst thing, one of the worst thing you can do is not consistently email your email list after you’re spending all this money on ads and generating tons of customers and emails for your business, and then have the list just go stale and die off.

I see this all the time with brands that come to us, they come to us know like, Hey, we have a 300,000 person email list or like 200,000 person email list, which is a nice size. But then when we go into the details, we see that because they haven’t actively been engaging their email list consistently, adding value and sending the right content. These lists are really only like, of a 300,000 person list I saw the other day… really only like less than 50,000 actually real subscribers that are going to like actually engage with email.

So that’s kind of the big broad overview of what people really need to be doing.

Adam: Yeah, that makes sense. So that the automation, essentially is there to follow up with the customer and to build confidence in shopping with you. The campaign emails you should send on a consistent basis, send emails that are value-added doesn’t have to necessarily be discounted. Consistent emails, though, what does that mean once a week? Or does it depend on the brand?

Dylan: Yeah, that’s a great question. So really, the way you look at it is, like you said, like, so your automated emails, they’re going to be the one that sends at the perfect right time, based on customer behavior. When people ordered when they joined your email list, that sort of thing with your campaigns, what you want to do is, this is going to be more of the things that you can’t automate. So things that have a lot to do with, you know, our traditional, you know, calendar day-to-day, so things like holidays or season, like, they’re different seasons for every product.

So this is where you can send emails based on you know, what’s going on. So that might be, for example, some sort of sales promotion around the holiday, or new product launch. Or maybe one of your products is selling out faster than usual so you let people know, things like that. Or like a new blog post, that’s another example. Things that you know, happen on a day-to-day.

So how often should you be sending? I mean, that question really depends on a few things, you should definitely be emailing your list, at least once per week. I’m a firm believer in that because otherwise, people are just going to forget about you, especially in 2019. And going into 2020. When people have they get so much email and they get bombarded with so much marketing, even just walking down the street like now billboards are digital, and they see three different ads when they used to just be one. I just want to get people used to seeing your emails, clicking on them engaging with them, and adding value. And you train people to open your emails and to click on your emails.

So then when the holiday comes, and it’s time to pull that lever and have that sales promotion, then you go hard, and you end up generating even more revenue, because people like your emails, they’re used to opening them, so you’re sending good stuff, and they’re trained to click on them, because you’ve been doing that the whole time by adding value.

Adam: Yeah, that makes sense. Is there a good open rate that people should shoot for?

Open Rates, Clickthrough Rates, and Conversion Rates

Dylan: Yeah, so this also kind of depends on how big your list is, how engaged it is. But really, I mean, one of the big red flags is like, you really have to start worrying if your open rate is below 10%. Like if it’s below 10%. Overall, like that is not good. That is when Google and Yahoo an Apple Mail, and these email providers start to look at you and say this person is sending an email that people don’t want to open, so they probably didn’t opt-in. And that gets really messy. So you definitely want over 10% engagement. But that’s going to vary based on you know, who you’re emailing. Like, if you’re emailing your entire list, including people who are pretty inactive, you’re going to get a lower number. That’s why you should really tighten it up and only be emailing people who have engaged with an email, whether that’s an open or click in like the last 90 days, and then from there, you definitely want at least a 10% open rate. And we typically aim for 15% to 20% or more.

Adam: Interesting, okay. In terms of a click-through rate. Does that you measure that? Do you do have a recommended range?

Dylan: Yeah, so it really, it’s really going to depend on a few things to click right. I mean, obviously, you want as many people clicking as possible, I don’t know if there’s a good rate to recommend for everybody, just because the reality is, in eCommerce, a lot of emails are going to be like buying focused. So they’re not going to get as many clicks, as you know, other types of emails. But I think the most important thing is training your audience to click.

So no matter what your email is, you’re going to get people used to clicking. And one great way to do that is with like, if you send a blog post, you give a little teaser, and then it’s like read the rest, you get people used to clicking. It’s funny like little subtleties like that actually produce really big results down the line. But as far as like a baseline click rate. I mean, it really doesn’t matter. Just always include a call to action, like that’s the most important thing. It doesn’t have to be a sales-y one either, but it could be linked to a blog post, it could be: check out our size guide, it could be, you know, whatever it is: check out our Instagram, something simple.

But that way people are just used to clicking your emails and clicking it opening it just like you have, you might have like that Facebook tick, where you’re so used to, you know, being an awkward situation, your body naturally, Facebook or whatever. And it’s like, how did I even get here? I remember pulling out my phone, but you’re probably just used to it. And that’s a really tricky, kind of like direct response marketing tactic that we see work well.

Adam: Totally. Yeah. I’ll drive somewhere. And I’ll drive home and not realize what happened in the last 10 minutes.

Dylan: Right. I know. It’s crazy.

Adam: So Black Friday is coming up? What can what are some tips that people can do to, in a positive, influence their Black Friday sales through the use of email marketing?

Dylan: Yeah, great question. Because Black Friday is your biggest… like Q4, in general, that’s your biggest opportunity of the year. Like you can even just make so much more money in Q4. And email is one of the most powerful ways to do it is be consistent, you know, the top channel or one of the top channels across all eCommerce in the fourth quarter.

And the best thing you can do is get started now. And that sounds crazy to think, oh, I’ve got plenty of time. But come on, you know how this works, it’s going to sneak up on you. And the people who are going to crush it come Black Friday, they’re going to have a real plan, and they’re gonna have a real strategy. And they’re going to go into it ahead of time, not as this last-minute thing. It’s like, oh, maybe we’ll send out a sale. Because what you want to be doing now is getting your email as used to getting emails from you can just email out of the blue. They’re like, “Who the heck is this?” Probably not open the email, worst-case scenario, they’re going to report it. So I would start there. And if you want to get into the specifics of like, what those campaigns would look like, we could talk about that too. But I’m not sure how deep you want to go.

Adam: Yeah, well, are there any specific tips that you would give for the campaigns for Black Friday?

Black Friday Is Coming: Here’s How To Prepare

Dylan: Yeah, so I’ll give you a kind of like, for kind of key ways that you can… the old way that people do is they sound like useless content for no reason leading up to the sale, like you know, buy this, blah, blah, blah. But the best way to do it, like I’ve been saying this whole time is to warm up your email list, sending objection busting and conversion-focused content. So you know, people your product catalogue, getting them excited about it, not necessarily being super sales-y, and then really think of a great offer something that’s going to crush it better than usual. Don’t be afraid to, you know, dip in a little bit to like a great discount or offer whatever that is. Because you’re going to generate a lot more sales, it’s going to cover that.

And typically, people just do some last-minute thought of discount, they don’t really have a strategy for it. But go back and see what’s worked for you over the last year in terms of discounting, or you know, sales promotions, maybe you do, you know, buy one get one, whatever it is, and really come in with your best offer. That’s how you’re going to do it, you need to really stand out. And the next way to do it is and the next piece of this is seeking and last discount codes. So many people also just send out a campaign last minute, like “Oh, crap, black Fridays, next week, we should probably do something” you want to plan your entire campaign strategy in advance.

And like I said, like, if you don’t have a plan for Black Friday, you’re kind of screwed, because the numbers aren’t going to be as good as it could have been. And you’re going to lose 10s of thousands of dollars, you know, maybe even hundreds of thousands, or millions on the table, depending on how big this is. And really, the strategy is super simple. It’s email a lot. So without being going, you just want to be persistent and follow up on Black Friday, the reality is the inbox is going to be getting hammered. So you’re going to want to be emailing during the Black Friday weekend, you’re going to be emailing pretty much daily, you know, announce the sale, remind people of the sale, show them the products they can buy, like, if you just send an email, it’s like, “Hey, 20% off everything” that’s great. But also kind of include the things they can use that 20% off on.

And then keep reminding them and then use urgency towards the end of the sales, let them know, you know, there’s five hours left, there’s one hour left, because a lot of times those you know, last email, they can generate as much money at first, which is really crazy. And then you just rinse and repeat that for Cyber Monday. But it’s really important to really hit hard and not be afraid to really let loose and not just send one email with your sale. Like if you run a seven-figure e-commerce business, you know, not sending an email is going to cost you thousands and thousands of dollars per day.

Adam: Yeah, now this is great, great information. I’m writing down a lot of notes here. So warm up your audience, the email list, offer, you know, plan in advance, have standout offers– great offers. And then, you know, email a lot and follow up.

Dylan: Yeah, and the answer is no offer. You don’t have to do like 50% off or something crazy, like this thing to the customer base. Like there’s this one company. I think it’s hilarious. They’re like Bulb America is what they’re called. And I think they just like I forget the exact store was like basically e-commerce for light bulbs, like lighting things. And they do a discount that’s just like 12% off sitewide. That’s not insane. They’re not getting 50% off. But it’s enough that people are in the buying mood, they have their wallet out. It’s enough to push them over the edge. So you don’t have to overthink.  Don’t overthink it, just do it.

Adam: Yeah. And plus Black Friday. I mean, people are wanting to spend money.

Dylan: Yeah, they’re ready their credit cards already out sitting on their lap. Like they just bought 20 seconds ago, and they’re ready to buy something else. And if you’re on your email list already, yeah, they’re there already.

Adam:  They already know your brand, you just have to push them over the edge in a sense.

Dylan: Yeah, exactly they want to spend money with your company if they’re on your email list. And, you know, making the most of Black Friday, like they want to open their inbox to get an irresistible offer from you.

Adam: So let me ask you this. Where do you see eCommerce going? in general?

Dylan: Yeah, in general. I think, in general, I mean, obviously, I think it’s just going to keep growing and growing. Just like everything. I mean, you look at a company like Amazon who’s really leading the pack, I don’t see a direct consumer going anywhere, I think that’s going to stick around, I don’t think people have to worry about that.

But I do see ads getting more expensive. I do see, you know, traffic getting more expensive, all these things happening, just because that’s what’s been happening for the last 20 years, you know, Google still does their SEO updates, so on and so forth. So it’s just going to get… even inbox, it’s getting way more competitive. So we need to do now, if you haven’t already, is really get a solid email strategy in place. And I’m not just saying that, because I run a company on it, like, I’m actually really passionate about this. That’s why you know, I’m talking about this.

So really, I just see ads getting more expensive, it’s not going to die, you’re not gonna have to worry about Facebook going anywhere. Like, if it goes somewhere, it’s not going to be it’s gonna like this died out over time. It’s not just gonna like disappear one day, I mean, I guess it could if the government nails them or something.

Tony: But that’s like, that’s like end of the world like that’s going to affect the whole economy. Not just because you think about how much money is going into ads on Facebook, and how many visits are built on that. But like, there could literally if the government, this is kind of crazy things about but if you think about the government, you know, telling Facebook, to do some crazy advertising and say people can’t advertise, Think about what they’ll do the economy and how many businesses are built on the back of that. That’s just crazy to think about. But anyway.

Adam: Yeah. 

Dylan: Overall, it’s just going to keep getting more competitive, you’re going to keep finding, you have to get way more targeted and laser-focused on your ideal customer and really walk people through and hold their hand. And that’s what’s so great about emails, you walk people from being not a customer who’s very sceptical of your brand. And you can take them to a VIP customer was spent the values of the brand, not by luck, by chance, not by guessing by simply being consistent and having a great email strategy that’s pulling out money that’s already in your business.

Adam: Totally makes sense. So somebody listening is like, Yes, that’s me. I want to have a good email strategy. I’m not even sure if I have one right now. Where can people go to learn more about you and about Wave Break?

Dylan: Yeah, so I’m actually really excited about this because I put together a free checklist, like just a hundred per cent free. What this is, is it’s like a black Friday email marketing checklist. And it’s full of everything that you need to do to prepare for Black Friday, everything you need to do to have a great Black Friday, how to handle Cyber Monday, what to do in December, what to do leading up to Q4, all of that literally step by step.

So this exact conversation we had, basically turn it into a to-do list for you because I know, running an ecommerce business, you know, being an e-commerce professional, it’s, it’s a lot of work, especially Q4. So I want to make your life as easy as possible. If you pick up that free Black Friday email marketing checklist. You can grab that at BlackFridayChecklist.com. That is blackfridaychecklist.com. If you want to learn about Wave Break specifically, you can head over to wavebreak.co and see some of our case studies and schedule an intro call if that’s something you’re interested in learning more about.

Adam: Excellent. And we’ll put those two things in the show notes. The BlackFridaychecklist.com and also WaveBreak.co. Man Dylan, this has been really helpful. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Dylan: Yeah, it’s been really fun to be here and I really appreciate you having me on the show. Adam.

Adam: Thank you so much. And until next time,